Freenapkin Claims Ownership Over Idea Of Giving Junk Away

Yesterday I wrote about new startup Listia, which has an innovative way to help people give and get free stuff that works better than Craigslist. The idea is that you use “credits” to bid on items, which helps the giver by auto-selecting the winner and getting the item to the person who values it the most. I’m using the service, for example, to give away a used Nokia N95 phone. They also have a great viral distribution mechanism by giving credits to people for spreading listings on Facebook and Twitter.

Today, though, we received an email from an angry competitor, Freenapkin. That site, which looks to have been designed on Geocities and presents first time visitors with a giant copyright violating cat asking them to create a listing, currently has about 10,000 monthly U.S. visitors. And it doesn’t have the unique auction capabilities of Listia. Still, that didn’t stop them from complaining that the Listia guys ripped off their idea:

From: [removed]
Date: August 6, 2009 1:48:50 AM PDT
Subject: inaccurate posts

It has been brought to our attention that your news post about listia was inaccurate and was in fact taken from us. We are founded in February 2008. We were the first ebay of free and have been using the phrase freely since Feb 2008. Our site was the only site on the web since 2008 to post all free auctions. Gee Chaung and his other counter part are just copying Matter of fact Gee Chaung has and is a member of freenapkin and registered in December of 2008. His idea is not spur of the moment and this post about ‘ebay of free’ for free auctions needs more attention.

Y-Combinator funded a plagarized website.


My first thought – don’t disclose personal information on your users, like if they are members and when they signed up. My second thought – both sites stole the basic idea of giving free stuff away from Craigslist, who stole the idea from people who leave crappy couches out on the sidewalk with a “free” sign sitting on it. So in other words, stop complaining and be more careful with user information. Besides, we just linked to you.